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An Interview with Maison Kitsuné

In Japanese folklore, the Kitsune - or the shape-shifting nine-tailed fox, is deified with a unique mysticism that has permeated Japanese culture for centuries. The tricolour fox of Franco-Japanese brand, Maison Kitsuné, has served as an emblem for the brand’s light silhouettes,  and nonchalant style. With collections that are always imbued with a playful sense of humour, Maison Kitsuné has occupied a special place in the fashion world with its focus on reinvented streetwear classics and an ineffable kind of cool. Making Maison Kitsuné just as apotheosised as the mythical fox from which it coins its name.

We sit down with Gildas Loäec, music aficionado, and one-half of the duo that have made Maison Kitsuné the global brand that it is today. We discuss the brand’s inception, the similarities between music and fashion, and the simple joys of a good cup of coffee.

As the founders and co-creative directors of Maison Kitsuné, can you tell us how you two met?
Gildas Loaëc: I moved to Paris at the age of 19 and opened a record store called Street Sound by the Louvre in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. It was there that I met Masaya and the duo that would soon become Daft Punk.
 

What inspired you to create Maison Kitsuné? Why did you choose the Kitsuné to be the icon of your brand?
GL: It all started when Masaya and I were in Japan together with Daft Punk for a production movie called Interstella 5555. The Japanese concept stores that we discovered in Tokyo inspired us to set out and create both a clothing brand together with a proper music label - and to put those two activities under one roof, one brand experience.
 
Maison Kitsuné is a Franco-Japanese brand. These dual roots are reflected in the name of our clothing line which is a combination of the French word for house and the Japanese word for fox. In Japan, the fox is revered as a mythical creature with multitudes of lives and appearances. The fox is the ideal logo for us as we are a multifaceted business with a clothing line (Maison Kitsuné), a record label (Kitsuné) and our coffee shops (Café Kitsuné). In particular, the tricolour fox is our brand’s emblematic signature as the blue, white, and red colours are another nod to our French roots. The tricolour fox patch is featured seasonally on all our basics including t-shirts and shirts, and sometimes appears on polos and hoodies. We have been playing around with the fox logo on our apparel ; and now have a whole range of styles featuring the fox such as, patches, embroideries, patterns, and prints.
 

How would you describe Maison Kitsuné?
Parisian, Japanese, chic, street, eclectic, and authentic.
 

Since the brand’s inception in 2002, Maison Kitsuné has always intersected the worlds of music and fashion — how do these joined passions influence the way you approach your brand?
Music and fashion are similar when it comes to our commitment to paying attention to details and following our vision. In both worlds, the constant strive for quality and creativity is key – the idea is to create and tell a story in the long run. The label and the clothing line are working independently, yet also in harmony with each other. Working in different industries at the same time forces us to remain curious and open-minded.
 
How do you find the balance between managing the fashion side of Maison Kitsuné with the record label?
The balance comes naturally; we’ve always done both at the same time!

Maison Kitsuné is always reinventing the classics; often combining timeless pieces with vibrant prints and colours, yet is also decidedly not trend-focused. What inspired you to make this aesthetic decision?
At Maison Kitsuné, we’re not inventing a new way of dressing. Our collections are chic and laid-back, with an effortless French essence and a street-wear vibe. We’re offering a wardrobe of classics, reinvented with our own Maison Kitsuné twist. The collections have of course evolved over the years: the styles offered are more fashionable, elaborate, sophisticated, and with a richer range of colours - while always only using high quality materials.
 

There is a strong collaborative aspect to Maison Kitsuné, your record label has launched the careers of some amazing artists like Phoenix, Hot Chip, and Citizens! as well as collaborating with brands like Petit Bateau and Pierre Hardy. How do you go about finding the right people to work with? How do these collaborations come to be?
We learn a lot from the brands we collaborate with – the latest collaborations we have worked on were with MR PORTER, Reebok Classic and Shu Uemura, amongst others.For us, the most interesting part of the collaboration process is successfully fusing both brand universes and savoir-faire to create something truly unique. Teaming up with prestigious labels continues to help us grow our brand recognition all over the world.
 

In addition to this, you also launched the Café Kitsuné concept in 2013, tell us about the philosophy behind this project?
We wanted to create a brand that reflected the things we’re passionate about. We love café culture, especially Masaya who is a true coffee lover. The philosophy behind this project simply revolved around the pure joy  of enjoying a good cup coffee in a beautiful and cosmopolitan location, while listening to good music.
 
Tell us about your SS17 Collection? Where do you usually get the inspirations for your collections?
Our latest collections were inspired by iconic movies. For Fall-Winter 2016, we drew inspiration from The Wind Rises, the animated movie by Hayao Miyazaki. For Spring-Summer 2017, our collection was entitled Party with Maison Kitsuné. The collection focused on the works of the French filmmaker, Jacques Tati.

Jumping off from these reference points, we unveil a wardrobe for men and women where concepts of French elegance, grace, and fantasy are the main focus. The silhouettes are light and minimalist with a distinguished nonchalance and a touch of humour - ideal for summer in the city or vacations by the sea.
 

What can we expect from Maison Kitsuné in 2017? Any exciting news or collaborations we should be looking forward to?
In 2017, you’ll see the fox everywhere. Look around and stay tuned!
From the music side, we’re working with great artists like Tkay Maidza, who is a fantastic young hip hop artist. Her debut album TKAY is launching on the 20th January. We are also really impressed by the boys from our most recent signing - Parcels. They have the best groove and their debut EP Hideout is being released on January 27th.

MAISON KITSUNÉ

Interview by Hannah Tan